From the Office

charles wilt

Charles Wilt, ALCTS Executive Director

A Look at the ALA 2010 Plan (Part 3 of 5)

Having skipped the Public Policy goal in the ALA2010 Plan in favor of the reminiscences of 1957 in my June musing, I want to continue my series on the ALA plan for August plus the next two issues. Membership will follow in October and Organizational Excellence will be December’s topic. But first:

Goal Area IV: Building the Profession

Goal Statement: ALA is a leader in recruiting and developing a highly qualified and diverse library work force.

Strategic Objectives:

  1. Increase leadership development opportunities for librarians and library staff.
  2. Increase the diversity of the library profession and workforce to reflect a changing population.
  3. Support nationwide efforts to increase recruitment and retention of librarians and library staff
  4. Support efforts to increase career development opportunities for all librarians and library staff.
  5. Through ALA-APA, advocate for improved compensation for librarians and library staff.

ALA has always been active in the recruitment of individuals to the profession. It’s a significant part of the charge of the Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment, directed most effectively by Lorelle Swader. ALA provides scholarships, including Spectrum Scholarships, to promising students who wish to pursue our chosen profession. So its no surprise that “Building the Profession” was a goal within the 2010 Plan. What’s slightly different is the expansion of the objectives under the goal into areas such as leadership development, career development, and compensation. The emergence of the latter as part of the ALA Plan is somewhat unusual since it places the emphasis on the ALA-APA, a separate but related organization. But that’s not what I want to concentrate on in this article.

I want to talk more about objectives 1, 3, and 4, which I believe can benefit and already benefited from ALCTS’ visible participation.

3. Support nationwide efforts to increase recruitment and retention of librarians and library staff.

The Membership Committee has, for a couple of years now, had as a goal to visit library schools and other career days to advocate for not only careers in technical services but also in careers in librarianship. These are important efforts that I would like to see expanded and include much greater participation from ALCTS members. Who will recruit and help retain good people if we don’t do it ourselves, particularly within our own areas. The case can be made and has been (see the student article in the February ANO) that ALCTS really does represent the intellectual capital of librarianship.

I believe that part of any recruitment and retention effort must include this intellectual pursuit component. Again, if we as ALCTS members can not make this argument, then who will on our behalf? The answer is, of course, probably no one.

1. Increase leadership development opportunities for librarians and library staff.

ALCTS, mostly through the Leadership Development (LD) Committee under the exceptional leadership of Dina Giambi and now Betsy Simpson, exemplifies what one group can do to fill an obvious void in developing not only ALCTS leaders but also library leaders. With the program offerings of the last two Annual Conferences, one on committee roles and the latest on managing across generations, the LD has pushed way ahead of anyone else in any other division in offering the highest quality leadership programming. Hundreds of people attended each of these. The need is there and ALCTS is on the “edge” (refraining from using the “L”-word [leader] too many times in such a small space). There is no doubt that a continuing series of leadership programs offered at every Annual Conference will be regarded as a must attend event.

In addition to the program, ALCTS has instituted several orientation sessions. Again the LD leads the way with the Volunteer Forum at Midwinter and the New Leaders Orientation at Annual. We have also formalized the new Board member orientation.

It is important to look at more ways to provide leadership development opportunities for our members and then reach out to the larger audience. Again, the need is there.

4. Support efforts to increase career development opportunities for all librarians and library staff.

Career development can take on many faces and can be different for different people. It can be that workshop that expanded knowledge, that committee appointment, leading that interest or discussion group, or just attending conferences. In my years here, I have seen ALCTS provide more significant career development opportunities for members who wish to take part. Yes, we did sunset some committees and eliminate some positions. But, we also created liaison and representative positions to ALA groups, encouraged people to form more interest and discussion groups, and in some cases, expanded the current committees by adding members and interns where positions were most needed. There are opportunities for program planners, Web course developers and instructors, workshop planners and presenters, task force members, authors, editors, mentors, membership booth volunteers, and who knows what else. We have to continually grow and invent opportunities for a new generation of librarians and members who have different thoughts on what constitutes career development.